The word “confer” is a grammatically rich one, depending on whether there is an object involved with it. As you English majors will recall, used transitively (with an object) the word suggests the bestowing of an honor on someone, as in, “The school conferred upon her an honorary degree.” But when used intransitively (without an object), it means to come together for a discussion or a deliberation.
One of the lessons I’ve gleaned since joining the Facebook world is that people probably don’t have a lot of time to park on one post. It seems to me that the platform is designed to allow people to scroll through their timeline and take a peek on what other people are doing and saying. If something grabs your attention, then you can give it more time. If it doesn’t, you can move on to something that does.
This Sunday, July 12, marks the third phase of our four-phased plan for resuming in-person gatherings at MBBC, one in which we will add Sunday Morning Bible Study (SMBS) opportunities. Again, as we move into this phase, we do so responsibly, gradually, and with an openness to adjusting our plans as necessary. Fortunately, we have not had any hiccups to this point in the process of implementing our plan, in large measure because of how our attendees have followed the guidelines we put in place to safeguard everyone. We will continue to follow those guidelines, even more strictly now that our gatherings will involve spaces that put us a bit closer to one another, though not to a level that we violate the need to keep practicing physical distancing.
This weekend will see the usual trappings of Fourth of July celebrations. There will be fireworks and cookouts, family gatherings and backyard activities. But this year won’t see some things that we’ve grown accustomed to on previous Independence Day holidays. There won’t be an entire day’s worth of baseball game in stadiums across the land. There also won’t be the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, at least not with a live audience. A lot of our celebrations have been condensed in response to the current pandemic. So, how free are we?
As many of you know, when heart patients are being examined, one of the first things they are given is a stress test. Never has anything been more aptly named. I know this from personal experience. Back when I turned 60, as a part of my routine annual physical, my doctor prescribed such a test for me. I went into it thinking, “Piece of cake; I’m in great shape.” I came out of it thinking, “I had no idea they were going to try to kill me.” The stress test does exactly what it says – it is designed to see how much stress a person’s heart can endure. That’s the only way physicians can determine the condition of a patient’s heart.
One of the consequences of making do in the midst of a pandemic is doing your best not to make any glaring mistakes. Because none of us has ever traveled this particular path, we’re not able to draw from previous experience and plan accordingly. Some have likened it to building a plane and flying it at the same time, which is not an ideal plan.
Ever since COVID– 9 exploded on the scene with all its disruptive strength, we’ve seen adjustments forced upon us in every aspect of life. Businesses have shut down and reopened in a different way. Sports leagues suspended their seasons and some of them are only now resuming competition, but with a very different schedule. Who knows what will happen with schools and football as we move toward the fall? And of course, churches have had to alter their ministries in response to the novel coronavirus.
The topic that’s been on everyone’s mind this week has been the reaction that has taken place across the country to what we can all agree was the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd on Monday a week ago in Minneapolis. The primary reason it’s been on ours is because of how the reaction spread to Birmingham, as on this past Sunday what began as a peaceful protest turned into an assault on downtown businesses and on members of the media who were there to report on the situation.
Anyone who has discovered the productivity of newer technologies sometimes has to shake his head and wonder how we ever lived without these things. Everything seems to have gotten “smarter” from the phones we use to the televisions we watch to the cars that we drive, and in the process, we like to think that so have we. We have become smarter also.